Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summarizing Podcast

A few weeks ago, I got the chance to record a podcast for Choice Literacy. How exciting! It's out as a sneak peek today:

Summarizing Podcast

I also compiled several different resources onto this blog post from earlier in the month.

How coincidental that today I was plugging away at teaching nonfiction summarizing with my reading class. Earlier this week, we practiced using the article "How Do We See in the Dark?" and sorting ideas as more important or less important. Then, students worked to write a summary of the text, using the important ideas as a guide. (Write to me if you'd like a copy of this text and I'll send it your way.) It worked well and helped the students to write decent summaries of that text. When we were talking about how to figure out which ideas were important, one kid blurted out, "Just look at the headings!" Perfect!

Soon, I'll be assessing their summarizing skills. Next year, I'll make sure that I don't leave this assessment until the very end of the year! Here is a blog post that I wrote a few years ago on creating summarizing assessments.  For formative assessments, it makes a lot of sense to use a summary rubric.

However, for a final look at summarizing skill, especially for younger students, using a checklist approach makes for quick and easy scoring. Simply make a list of the important ideas from the text. (This is fun to do with colleagues!) Then, check off the ideas that students include in their summaries. Set a score for what you are looking for--4/8 important ideas? 6/8? Again, it's useful to do this with colleagues.

Hopefully things will go well for my readers. It's hard to think about ending the year--I'll miss this group! Sadly, the year always ends in such a blur of assessments and scores that I don't always have a chance to sit back and appreciate the progress that we've made.


  1. I just joined Choice Literacy. So excited for you to be part of them. I haven't been able to explore much yet but I'm looking forward to it this summer.

  2. Emily,
    Thanks for a great year. I've followed your posts throughout the year and can say that I've "stolen" quite a bit from you. I sometimes feel as if you're teaching my class with as many different tips/powerpoints, etc. as I've used. At any rate, my 3rd graders had a GREAT year and grew quite a bit. (I had an inclusion classroom with several IEPs and lower performers.) I know that some of the growth they experienced is due to some of the things you shared. FYI, I'm always recommending you to colleagues as well and noticed the other day that someone had also copied info from one of your posts. Anyway, thanks again. It was great working with you (albeit from a distance) this year.

  3. Wendy, thanks so much for writing! It's so nice to know that the things I've shared have been helpful for you. :) Is there anything you'd like to see for next year? I'm compiling a summer list of things to work on--more on inferencing, a set of descriptive texts, and an intervention plan for fluency and academic vocabulary.

  4. Emily,
    I've just discovered your blog and love it! I will be interested in seeing what you and your team decide for the coming year. I teach fourth grade and it is hard to decide what order to teach the skills in. I'm constantly changing from year to year. I would love to have a copy of "How do we See in the Dark?". Thank you for taking so much of your time to inspire teachers!

    1. Hello! It's good to hear from someone else who likes to change things up. :) Send me an email at and I'll send "How Do We See In The Dark?" your way. Thanks!